by, 16-02-2009 at 10:48 (529 Views)
It was quite a sight for Namlas: more Corsairs than he had ever seen in his life so far, gathered on the tranquil shores of the Mehtani Keys. All the faces he had never seen before, looking at each other initially with equal bewilderment and suspicion, suggested to him that this was a new experience for everyone. Looking around, he finally recognized a few faces. He probably had met them before in towns trading with merchants. After making eye contact, they nodded to one another. Namlas felt a strange sense of belonging that had so far seemed foreign to him. Not knowing entirely how to reconcile the feeling, he instead decided to focus on the meeting and sought out Lucky to get the status of the gathering.
Lucky himself wasn't privy to all the details of the meeting either. He knew that the group was invited—or ordered, depending on how one looked at it—to travel to the southeast corner of the island chain and join the rest of the Corsairs for an announcement from a Kournan representative. After what seemed like a whole morning of waiting, the various members got impatient and started to walk around to talk with the others while Lucky remained behind to go over some maps.
Walking along the shore, Namlas found it strange that he wasn't able to relax as he normally would in such a setting. Part of him was unusually anxious about what was to take place. Could this arrangement with the Kournans be a bad deal, he asked himself. What if they were betrayed or fell into a trap? What better way to eliminate all Corsairs by gathering all of them at one remote place for slaughter? The more he thought about the possibilities, the more uneasy he got. He felt he should talk to Lucky. But he didn't want to sound like a baby crying for reassurance. After all, he could be an elder himself. What would the others think after seeing him act like a worrisome woman? Perhaps just some pointless chat, then. Perhaps that would at least take his mind off the matter, he thought to himself as he walked back to the group towards Lucky.
The walk back initially seemed uneventful enough. He remembered noticing the gentle waves caressing the sandy beach and how his step left a trail of prints along the sand. The waves would soon cover and slowly erase them in good time. It was at that time, that moment that he frequently visited in his memories, when it started.
It felt like a cloth being torn in haste, he later recalled. Of all the feelings at the time, he remembered the heat, the fire, the burning. It was as if his arm ignited and burst into flames, before his body felt the same. It was a novel sensation, if not a painful one. Up until then he had experienced merely bludgeon strikes and wounds. He had heard of magical spells, so he recognized it soon enough. But he really did not expect to be hit by one of them. Not at a tranquil place like this.
“Surrender, Corsairs!” An almost melodic shout came from behind him, as if some goddess had sung to him. “You are surrounded!”
He remembered trying to steady himself and to get up, blinded by the unusually bright sand that day, as if reflecting the sun a bit more than they normally do. Disoriented by that initial strike, Namlas lost the grip of his scythe as he fell. As he reached for the scythe and to get up, out of the corner of his eyes he saw behind him a descending wave of white soldiers, some of whom he thought he saw flexing magnificent golden translucent wings as wide as six men across either side. With the sun rays peering from behind them half blinding him, it was as if these men had directly came down from the heavens above. He almost forgot to breath.
At that moment, he finally knew what all those superstitious men in the past talked about. He understood those non-sensible ramblings of religious men. It was at that moment he saw and realized a world beyond his own. Soon enough he would know that these were simply Sunspears charging at them with the sun behind. In time, everything could be explained away. One could say that was the fiery spell that hit him, the sun, the old age, the state of his mind, if one were to analytically go and dissect each little bit that contributed to that moment. And one would eventually find all the explanations that were anything but mystical. However, despite many years since then, whenever he would think back to that moment, he would remember it as a moment where he was blessed with an open door, or rather an open mind, to a world beyond this—one that he had been seeking throughout his life but never found.
He took hold of his scythe and stood up, facing the incoming white warriors. He didn't wield the scythe for defense or ready it for strike; he just held it in his left hand, letting it weigh on him, for he really didn't know what else to do with it. His mind was focused on—and mesmerized—by the vision before him. He found it difficult to move, even if he wanted to.
Then, from behind him and around him, he saw men charging toward the vision. They were not standing still like he was; they were charging in with arms and shields, yelling for solidarity. Soon the vision was started to be blocked out by the backs of the Corsairs that had rushed on to battle. He heard the clashing of swords, spears, scythes, blades. He heard the cries of pain and death ahead. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. He was comforted by the thought that he finally had found what he was seeking. But of all possible things, it had to be in a form of Sunspears charging at and attacking him.
After he felt as if he were stuck in that confused state forever, he now saw more men rushing from behind around him toward the Sunspears. Only these were no longer in rags that the Corsairs wore; these were in full military armor. He turned around and saw a small band of men emerging from behind a rock formation. These were the Kournan troops that were to meet with them. But they obviously recognized the situation and decided the join in the fight. All but a few of them.
A handful of figures remained behind, and upon seeing him, a figure in a relatively less armored robe gave some instructions to a soldier by his side. Namlas was then escorted back to the figure by two faceless soldiers behind battle masks.
“Why are you not fighting alongside your brothers?” queried the Dervish. It was a female, he noticed. Her voice was coarse and authoritative. Namlas stumbled on the answer. For he wasn't sure himself why he hesitated. Had he felt the need, he knew he would charge in, if not leading the offensive at the Sunspears. However, at the moment he felt at a loss of ideas why he stayed behind. The thought of explaining his vision was quickly mentally dismissed just by the absurdity of it.
The Dervish looked at him intently for moment and then spoke, “You look like you just witnessed—some mystical apparition, perhaps, something spiritual in nature? I know of such looks on a man. I usually can detect it. That single moment when his worldly confines open up for expansion beyond his comprehension. Is this how you feel?”
“They—they came down from the heavens,” stuttered Namlas. “As if they were agents of the gods themselves. It—felt wrong fighting them.” Namlas wasn't sure if that was the reason for his hesitation. He wished there were more time to work things out. He wished everything would just stop for a while for him to understand. Just for a while.
But things never went his way, Namlas realized whenever he thought back at that moment. As soon as he found something of value—anything that would better his life, there would be something terrible to negate it. And of all the worst luck in all the worlds, it was a loose spear—probably one meant for another poor chap—that somehow missed the intended target and flew out of the battle areas, across span if emptiness, all the way to where Namlas was. Where his heart was.
It pierced his clothing easily enough. And by the time he knelt down looking at the tip protruding out of his chest, covered with the bright redness of his fresh blood, he didn't feel anything any more. Not physically, anyway. At that moment he briefly did renew his resentment for the Sunspears, that group of privileged bullies that had been a thorn is his eyes. Over the years he thought he had outgrown them, that he had found a life away from their shadows. And only now had he found something that was more than what he had known—something that he had sought after his whole life, curse the gods that it had to come in the form of these arrogant Sunspears.
The Dervish knelt down and looked into Namlas's eyes. She looked at the spear that pierced his heart and the blood that was tapped out of it. She then raised her hand to steady him by the shoulder. “Fear not, man. This is not the end of all things.” Her eyes were so understanding. He looked at her face more closely and found one that was as old and weathered as his. Only hers was not weary and sad but was full of confidence. “As you pass over, you will be transformed.” He wasn't sure if she was telling him of the future or if she was commanding him what to do. Her forceful voice made that distinction difficult. “Your physical form will be different, but do not worry about such things. You will be one step closer to what you seek.” He started to suffocate and felt dizzy. He needed air, and his body reacted by causing him to cough, as if to take in more air. He now laid on his back. He couldn't see the spear tip anymore. It must have dematerialized now that it had done its job, he thought. Just then he briefly regretted never to figure out how those spear spells worked. He regretted leaving so many things undone. So many things unsaid. He thought about the family that he had forgotten over the years.
The Dervish knelt down to stare at him, momentarily blocking out the sun. His last clear sights were a dark silhouette around which were the sun rays that warped around the form. He remembered once as young boy he had witnessed something similar when the moon briefly blocked out the sun. The lights had also warped around the moon trying to escape.
Her voice snapped him back to the present. “I can sense potentials, and I see one in you. I will grant a favor onto you for you to live beyond this. Remember when you cross to the other side: seek out Abaddon, your new god.”
With that, she sat up but stayed in her kneeling position and started to incant some indistinct words, as if casting some spell. He couldn't move and simply laid there and observe and listen. He felt his body struggling for more air, coughing up more blood that oozed down the side of his mouth. The sky started to grow dark. In the twilight he saw the Dervish before him finished chanting and rose.
One of the soldiers leaned over to the Dervish and said, “Time to go, General Kahyet.” As the whole world before him grew dark, he saw the Dervish nodding and walking out of his waning view.
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